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Useful Stats: Nearly 90 percent of all federal support to colleges and universities for science & engineering in 2019 came from just three agencies

Federal funding is a major source of support for the science and engineering (S&E) activities of the nation’s institutions of higher education (IHEs). This week’s edition of Useful Stats shows that in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available), the vast majority — 87.6 percent or $33.4 billion— of that federal support came from only three agencies: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DoD).

Some universities canceling student debt

In an unexpected turn of events, some college students around the country have been logging into their accounts to check on account balances and finding them canceled. Many institutions of higher education across the country have been taking advantage of federal assistance provided through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief funds (HEERF) to cancel student debt. HEERF I, II and III represent three programs that Congress appropriated to higher education to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including emergency financial grants to students.

Useful Stats: Federal support to colleges and universities for science & engineering by state and type of activity, 2019

Developing local assets and nurturing local talent in science and engineering (S&E) is paramount to productive innovation economies. Institutions of higher education (IHEs) are arguably the most important elements of these local knowledge-capital assets — housing physical R&D infrastructure, training new scientists and engineers, and creating and disseminating new knowledge across the academic, public, and private sectors.

NSF commits $50M to broaden STEM participation

The U.S. National Science Foundation has announced the establishment of five new NSF INCLUDES Alliances to enhance preparation, increase participation and ensure the inclusion of individuals from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The investment is part of an effort to address diversity, inclusion and participation challenges in STEM at a national scale.

NSF’s 11 new AI institutes total $220M and expand reach to 40 states

The National Science Foundation has announced the establishment of 11 new NSF National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, reaching a combined investment of $220 million and including a total of 40 states when adding the original seven institutes announced last year. The institutes are expected to act as connections in a broader nationwide network and will be led by NSF in partnership with the U.S.

Regional innovation highlights in infrastructure bill

Editor’s note: The Senate passed the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act on Aug. 10, 2021. This article has been updated to reflect the final amendments and new information on next steps for the legislation.

SSTI provides brief on SSBCI

The American Rescue Plan Act provides $10 billion for the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) as part of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic-induced recession. This funding is unlike other small business assistance programs funded during the emergency so far in that SSBCI specifically provides funds to states — at least $56 million per state — to use for their own capital access initiatives, including programs that make investments in small businesses.

VCs invest at historic levels, but deal funnel shifting

The PitchBook-NVCA Venture Capital Monitor for the first half of 2021 reveals that the market is set to break a number of investing records, but strikingly, the record levels of investment activity are all being set by the later stages of investment. At the other end of the funnel, activity is increasing, but not at the same pace as the overall market.

House committee advances $7 billion regional tech hubs legislation

Earlier this week, the House science committee advanced a series of technology-focused bills, including a $7 billion authorization of regional technology hubs. This legislation completes the committee’s work to produce a companion to the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. The House and Senate legislation are not identical, however, and so the chambers will need to bring their versions into alignment. Among the key differences are that the House authorizes less funding for the program but also creates a new regional clean energy innovation program.

Defense supply chains in need of overhaul; task force recommends action

Vulnerabilities in the international networks that supply goods and services needed for finished products used by the Department of Defense were exposed to a higher degree during the pandemic, and became the subject of a congressional Armed Services task force. The bipartisan Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force was established to make the security of the U.S.

$60M investment from DOE to increase energy efficiency in manufacturing goes to 32 Industrial Assessment Centers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $60 million in funding for its largest-ever cohort of university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) to assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers in reducing their carbon emissions and lowering energy costs.

Examining what work could look like after the pandemic and its implications for economic development

Falling demand for office real estate and public transit, greater need for flexible child care and requirements for reskilling are some of the insights gained into the future of Massachusetts’ workforce.

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